With all this talk of fake news, it's hard to know what to believe. And no one could accuse the equestrian community of lacking imagination with this array of April Fool's Day pranks for 2017...
If only there had been some truth in our very own (fake) news that the record-breaking dressage star Valegro was to turn his hoof to eventing. It looks like we’ll have to make do with the demonstrations and exhibitions we’ve been promised instead.
2. The BEVA Bump Protector
Things were looking up on 1 April for pregnant vets, with the announcement on MumsVet of the BEVA Bump Protector, to help pregnant equine vets feel safer in practice.
3. Headphones for the Grand National runners
Racing was hurtling into the future with the news that for the first time horses running in the Grand National had been given special permission to wear hi-tech headphones which play music during the race.
4. Baileys Fragrance Infusions Feeds
Horse owners thought they could wave goodbye to stinking out colleagues as they arrived at work post going to the yard — with the new Baileys Fragrance Infusions Feeds, “made from selected natural extracts, which release slowly throughout the digestive process so your horse emits a soft and subtle scent from every pore”.
5. The app that tells you what your horse is thinking
Thanks to Animalife, an app that would let us know exactly what our horses are thinking was seemingly in our reach — for just 99p. “Thought processes that can be read include happiness, love, hunger, excitement, fear, sadness, loss and even depression,” it read on the Animalife website.
6. Cat dressage
We’ve all seen our cats strut their stuff, but the Jockey Club announced on Twitter that they would be profiling ‘cat dressage’ at its courses this summer, as it aims to become an internationally-recognised sport.
7. A four-legged art critic
Equestrian Creative Network welcomed a new art critic on board on 1 April — one with four legs, and a lot of important letters after his name: Lord Horsebert Frangible-Pinn Bhs. PC. RC. XC.
8. A Michael Jung statue
It looked like Michael Jung’s star status was about to be taken up a notch, with Eventing Nation‘s story outlining plans for the unveiling of a life-sized bronze statue of Michael at the 2017 Rolex Kentucky — complete with “interactive fountains strategically placed at fischerRocana’s feet to create the illusion of a dramatic splash into water, and a Vegas-style laser light show synced to German techno music to keep crowds entertained in between horses coming through the Head of the Lake at this year’s event.”
9. The world’s first seahorse race
Paddy Power had racing fans scratching their heads, with footage of the world’s first successful seahorse race. “This morning six of them (seahorses) lined up and they managed to race exactly on cue. They seem to be getting the hang of it, but I’m not certain Willie Mullins would even turn these into winners,” said jockey Ruby Walsh.
10. New residents for the Racehorse Rehoming Centre?
The Racehorse Rehoming Centre was standing by for some more unusual residents on 1 April, after the news of an exceptionally fast zebra broke. “We are all amazed here at the yard, we took him in because he wasn’t getting on with the other zebras at Chester Zoo and we had a spare stable,” said his trainer Joe King. “Soon he began to accompany the horses on the gallops and we found him to have an extraordinary turn of speed.”
11. Horses on the hard shoulder
Readers of BBC Countryfile magazine may have been alarmed to read that a new ruling from The Highways Agency would allow riders to use the hard shoulders of Britain’s motorways from this summer onwards…
12. Some changes to the European CIC2* Championship
Eventers may have been left scrambling for the rule book when it was announced on the European 2* Eventing Team GB Facebook page that there would be some changes to the team dressage test at the European CIC2* Championship — including the test being ridden by eight team members, the five loop serpentine being extended to six loops and the arena being extended to 80m.
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Followers of the popular Lamb National, which took place at Ascot Racecourse yesterday (2 April) were given an insight into the life of ‘racesheep trainer’ William Shepherd on 1 April. “I love it, don’t get me wrong they have their moments, especially coming up to a big raceday, but they are finely-tuned athletes,” said head groom Jess Shearman.
14. And finally… Naturists in the saddle
Babeny Farm Stables was giving riders with a penchant for taking their clothes off the chance to ride naked across Dartmoor’s stunning wilderness — away from the glare of the public.